Scale 1 : 50, length 104 cm, width 47 cm, height 96
The WAPEN VON HAMBURG historical background
In the 17th century the German Empire was a rather loose federation that
had only limited naval power. It could not give its trading vessels a
protection by an organized escort system. Especially the Mediterranean
routes were endangered by corsairs of the Barbary States of North
Africa, who were masters in using their
fast and light chebecs.
In the years 1662 - 1667 the City of Hamburg lost altogether 13 trading
vessels to pirates, and the shipping of the city was nearly disrupted.
In 1667 the citizenry decided to build two strong warships as “convoy
ships”. They were the Leopoldus Primus and the WAPEN VON HAMBURG.
The Leopoldus Primus undertook 33 long journeys, until she was broken up
The WAPEN VON HAMBURG was built in the Deichtor shipyard in Hamburg by a
Dutch shipbuilding master. The construction work started in spring of
1667 when the keel was laid down. The wood work was finished in 1668.
The armaments were installed, and the ship took up service in 1669.
The sculpture work was done under the guidance of master carver
From 1669 the ship served as an escort vessel on voyages to Malaga,
Cadiz, Lisbon and north till Spitsbergen. In October 1683, on a trip to
Cadiz, suddenly a fire started in the forecastle and rapidly spread
throughout the vessel. The fire eventually reached the gunpowder depot
and caused a terrible explosion that destroyed the ship. Admiral Berent
Jakobsen Karpfanger, 42 of 170 crew members, and 22 of 50 soldiers lost
The body of the admiral was buried with great ceremony in the
foreigners' cemetery on the seafront of Puntales, Cadiz. King Charles II
of Spain erected a monument on the tomb to honour the admiral. It stood
there for 125 years, until in 1808 the French removed the cemetery in
order to enlarge the port fortification.
To replace the lost convoy ship a new Wapen von Hamburg was built in
1686 and 1687, which was used until 1719.
On 12 November 1720 a third ship of this name was launched, the Wapen
von Hamburg (III). A contemporary dockyard model of this vessel in 1 :
16 scale still exists. It is displayed in the
Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte.
Details on history of the three ships, plans and photographs of the
dockyard model are in a book by Heinrich Reincke und Bernhard Schulze,
"Das Hamburgische Convoyschiff Wapen von Hamburg III", Arbeitskreis
Historischer Schiffbau e.V., Cologne and Museum fuer Hamburgische
Geschichte, ISBN 3-931874-00-2, Weyers Druck, Brilon 1998.
On this webpage today's common German way of spelling “Wappen von
Hamburg” is used for the designation of the files, so that the search
engines may find this page more easily. However, the historically
correct name of the ship is “Wapen von Hamburg”, in the way of writing
at that time.
The WAPEN VON HAMBURG ship model, photos, description and
Please take your time to have a good look at the set of photos. There
several views of the entire ship model and
closer views of hull, deck and rigging. If you click on a photo you
will get that photo in high resolution. Only these high resolution
photographs show how much work and handicraft ability were put in the
model. (If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox, press F11 to
minimize navigation bars and have a larger screen with the photos.)
This model of the WAPEN VON HAMBURG is 1 : 50 scale. Length is 104 cm,
width 47 cm, height 96 cm.
The ship model is not glued to the
stand and can be taken out. However, two pins in the keel keep it
from shifting. The gangway running from the quarter-deck to the
can be removed to allow for a clear view of the boat and the cannon.
This excellently worked model of the WAPEN VON HAMBURG is a very fine piece
of work. In many details the art of shipbuilding, rigging and
weaponry of that time is shown. It is an impressive ship model that was
made (with some interruptions) in 8000 work hours over 13 years.
This model has been already sold. The pictures and the data are shown in
gallery of the ship models sold only to let enthusiasts and model
makers enjoy the photos and maybe get ideas or some guidance, if someone
builds such a model by himself.